‘A Spirit of Eager Expectancy’

It’s fascinating to see how many of the Christmas preparations of more than a century ago still apply today. From busy shopping to hanging the mistletoe, an 1890 Maryland Christmas seems very familiar.

Just a few days before Christmas of that year, The Baltimore Sun painted a busy shopping scene:

“[M]en, women and children stayed on the streets hour after hour, the majority, in fact, spending the day going about from store to store accumulating bundles. And what a sight of bundles did they accumulate, to be sure, and what a remarkable capacity for holding them did the pedestrians develop! Every one carried at least one bundle, and the greater number struggled manfully, or better, womanfully, along with parcels, averaging from six to nearly two dozen.” 

The Sun also shared the tradition of hanging mistletoe during the season:

“There is always a large sale of mistletoe at Christmas, as no home celebration is complete without a sprig of mistletoe tied to the chandelier, or, as some of the girls like it, worn in the hair, or tacked over the doorway, thereby making escape hopeless.”

And The Aegis and Intelligencer described Christmas preparations and anticipation in Harford County:

“The stores are filled with hundreds of pretty and useful articles, any one of which would give pleasure as a Christmas present. … Everywhere there is a spirit of eager expectancy. Those of more mature years look for their pleasure in the happiness they expect to bestow upon their children or friends, while the little folks, regarding Christmas as their own peculiar holiday, are wondering what Santa Claus will bring them.”

Sources: The Baltimore Sun, December 11, 1890, December 23, 1890; The Aegis and Intellingencer, December 19, 1890

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